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In terms of performance, as we would expect 3DMark 05 shows the XT to be behind the XTX but significantly ahead of the 7800 GTX 512MB. This is more pronounced in 3DMark 06 simply because NVIDIA can’t do FSAA and HDR at the same time and so therefore return no score for those tests. In Far Cry, the XT keeps up well with the XTX and is only around 4fps slower across all resolutions, which is not too bad at all. It’s even closer in F.E.A.R. too and pretty much equals the XTX in Half-Life 2.
In Doom 3 it’s again slightly slower but this is the only test where NVIDIA manages to keep up or even overtake at higher resolutions. ATI has never done as well as NVIDIA in OpenGL based games and we recently spoke to ATI about this. Our source hinted that by the time Microsoft’s Vista OS rolls around it will be in a position to unveil OpenGL drivers that are competitive to NVIDIA but that's still some time away.
From what we’ve seen then it’s hard to justify the extra cost of the XTX unless you really need to have the very fastest card possible. In addition, overclocking should bring the XT even closer to XTX performance but then again, you can overclock the XTX too, to get even further ahead.
The CrossFire Master Card is based on the XT so it will make a ideal match, though ATI confirmed to us that if you pair a Master card with an XTX both cards will run at their respective clock speeds and that the Master card will simply do more work and wait for the slower XT when it has to.
Really then it’s easy to recommend the XT as a incredible performing card that offers most of the top-end card's power but will save you some cash for a couple of games. However, it’s still a lot of money for anyone except the enthusiast and you might feel that if you’re spending this much then you might as well go the whole-hog and buy the XTX.
The XT then is a difficult one to call, as there’s more of a price gap between NVIDIA’s 7800 GT, GTX and GTX 512 parts than there is with the XT. This is because the XT only differs from the XTX in its clock speeds, where the three 7800 parts all differ in terms of clock, pipelines and memory.
Without wanting to sit on the fence it’s fair to say then that either an XTX or an XT is a great choice. The XTX will give you unequalled bragging rights but buying an XT is a slightly more level headed choice as you do save some cash, the performance is very close and there’s the potential for overclocking. In fact, we managed to overclock our card to 650/1,550, exactly the same as the XTX, though of course there's no guarantee that every card will be able to do achieve that.
As for the Powercolor offering, the package is a perfectly good bundle, though there's nothing here that can really spice it up to differentiate it from the likes of Sapphire. As Sapphire can bring its cards in even cheaper, this might well be the deciding factor.
Powercolor does a great job at showcasing the power of the Radeon X1900 XT but the bundle is standard and it's not the cheapest package available. The good news though is that purchasing the XT over the XTX will save you a reasonable chunk of cash but performance is very close to its bigger brother making it the second fastest graphics card available to buy right now.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network